A column written by Associate Editor Paul Davis caught the attention of many of our readers last weekend.
When I first read the article, I took it for what it was supposed to be – A lighthearted attempt to say that the little things matter.
But many of the comments shared on social media and our website had a different perspective. Some were on this theme: “It’s easy to criticize these workers when you don’t have these jobs. I’m sorry to hear that the extra waiting time and the lack of napkins with your food is such an inconvenience to you that you decided it was necessary to write an article about it.”
When I first saw the comments I wondered if those posting had read the full article or were familiar with Paul’s other work.
His Saturday column shared, “I understand that everyone is understaffed, but even those brave enough to show up should still be able to provide good customer service (yes, there are definitely good examples of this around).”
In late November, he also penned a “Thanks for Spinning the Wheels” column, in which he acknowledged the hard work needed to make our world work.
“Thank you to those who show up for work every day, whether you are a cook or a fast food server, a truck driver, a postman, a retail worker, a teacher, a civil servant or whatever,” Paul said as he opened his column. “Thank you for making the world around us go round, despite the difficulties.”
He acknowledged the difficulties faced by workers, being short-staffed, short of supplies and in a seemingly constant state of upheaval for the past two years.
In the recent column, he raised the issue of small, perhaps seemingly inconsequential issues that can improve everyone’s experiences a bit.
When I read comments like, “Obviously you’re looking for a low level of readership. You need to apologize to our local business owners’, I also wondered if some of these people posting were the type who wanted their comments to be as polarizing as possible – I myself am linked to a few people who have this bad habit.
Having said that, I want to take a few minutes to respond to a couple of things. I’m not doing this to add fuel to the fire but because, as we’ve said before, building trust means explaining our decisions.
Small topics can lead to big conversations. Shared experiences can spark greater understanding between people who thought they had nothing in common.
Something as simple as a written joke, where are the towels, might seem trivial in the grand scheme of the world’s problems – something that Paul tried to point out – but it certainly started a conversation about the frustrations felt by customers and business owners.
I’d be very surprised (and incredibly in disbelief) if everyone – even those who commented against the article – didn’t once experience some of the same frustrations that Paul spoke of. And had shared those frustrations themselves.
We also had a comment from a business owner who brought up another important aspect of the conversation.
“I totally agree with you Paul. But it’s also a two-way street. As someone who runs a business dealing with consumers, I can tell you that many more customers today are really upset about things that didn’t upset them,” the individual wrote.
The person went on to say, “I agree with you, bad attitudes shouldn’t come into play, but they do come into play on both sides of this equation. Bad government policies exacerbated what was already a big problem by paying people who may not have been very motivated to work in the first place.
Wouldn’t anyone agree that businesses need to hear from customers? Would you say that customers need to hear from business owners?
It doesn’t hurt to have a conversation, especially if everyone agrees to be respectful no matter what side of the debate they’re on.
Paul struck up a conversation. He hoped to make people laugh. Some people agreed with him. Others don’t. That’s pretty much the nature of our business.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to read his column, and this one, and consider the big, and not so big, issues in the world with us (even if you disagree with us).
Donna Farley is the editor of the Daily American Republic. She can be contacted at email@example.com.